Keith talked to the Washington Posts Ezra Klein about the GOP's huge flaming hypocrisy on stimulus spending which they decry in public for political purposes, but secretly love, as shown by their so-called "letter marks" they've been sending out by the thousands asking the federal government for more spending in their states.
These hypocrites really have perfected the art of talking out of both sides of their mouth, but then what do you expect from a party that has the greater part of their constituency screaming about the evils of "big government" while they collect their Social Security and Medicare benefits?
OLBERMANN: The fundamental story of the Tea Party, and therefore now, the Republican Party, is that small government is best because government gets in the way. If only the government would get out of the way, the economy would be unleashed. Congressional Republicans buy into and feed that story in public.
But in our fourth story tonight: It turns out that behind closed doors, what they have learned in Washington is, that government helps.
We all remember how much Senator John McCain hates earmarks in the stimulus passage was passed with the promise of no earmarks.
But the Center for Public Integrity reveals today, thousands of letters from member of Congress across the country requesting so-called letter marks from the agencies distributing stimulus money. Letter marks - - simply letters asking agencies to fund particular projects. Letter marks from dozens of Republican who claimed publicly the stimulus would not create jobs. Letter marks for Republicans including John McCain.
John McCain writing to the Departments of Energy, Transportation and Commerce supporting stimulus funding for project in his state. Of course, McCain was part of old Washington.
What about the very first senator swept to power by the Tea Party? In his very first news conference, he said the stimulus had created no new jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SCOTT BROWN (R), MASSACHUSETTS: The last stimulus bill didn`t create one new job. And in some states, the money that was actually released hasn`t even been used yet.
REPORTER: It didn`t create one new job?
BROWN: That`s correct. We lost, what, another 85,000 jobs again, give or take, last month. And Massachusetts hasn`t created one new job and throughout the country as well. It may have retained some, but it hasn`t created any new jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Only two months later, Brown asked big government to get in the way of local business with funding for broadband infrastructure. "Broadband coverage is essential to the economic wellbeing and recovery of western Massachusetts and crucial to help prepare our next generation of entrepreneurs and job creators."
What about Brown and McCain`s leader in the Senate, Mr. Responsibility, Mitch McConnell?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: A stimulus bill that was supposed to be timely, targeted and temporary, turned out to be a liberal wish-list instead. Instead of stimulating the economy and keeping unemployment below 8 percent as promised, we stand here today with nearly 10 percent unemployment nationwide, and many more Americans struggling to find full time work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Five letters, not just seeking money but explaining why stimulus money is so important to Kentucky. To quote from a few, "Supporting Appalachian railroads has the potential to attract industry, create jobs."
Milton, Kentucky-Madison, Indiana. Yes, the bridges of Madison, Indiana, "replacing this hazardous bridge will improve and preserve these river communities."
McCracken County -- "These necessary improvements will enable Paducah and the region to improve its economy."
Except, of course, the Tea Party is running against the Republican leadership and even Scott Brown was only the northeast version of a Tea Partier. What about a real Tea Partier? What about the queen of tea, Congresswoman Michele Bachman?
Quoting figure from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Michele Bachmann makes a passionate case for big spending by big government to finish a big 40-year effort to rebuild the Trunk Highway 36 Bridge over the St. Croix River. "The project would directly produce 1,407 new jobs," she writes, "per year, while indirectly producing 1,563 a year -- a total of 2,970 jobs each year after the project`s completion."
Numerous jobs in Nevada, Senator Ensign says, a multitude of new jobs.
Georgia`s Republican senators both say, Senator Jeff Sessions using the phrase, "long term economic and environmental benefits" in five letters.
And Lamar Alexander on just one stimulus project, "increase job growth and speed up the economic recovery of," what? A town? County? " Quote, "the tri-state region, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama."
Let`s turn to MSNBC contributor, Ezra Klein, also, of course, staff reporter for "The Washington Post" and a columnist at "Newsweek."
Good evening, Ezra.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Keith.
OLBERMANN: This -- the caricature of the stimulus, from the day it was thought off, let alone enacted, was that money only creates jobs by paying people to work. But these are letters and dozens of them from Republicans and they`re far more than we had room to go into here and they all suggest that stimulus spending, as Ms. Bachmann said, creates jobs by improving the environment in which businesses, you know, go and do business.
It seems somewhat contradictory to their stated position. Is this all correct or some figment of my imagination?
KLEIN: It`s like how people don`t like Congress but like their congressmen.
KLEIN: If you could have had a stimulus, there was one stimulus for every congressional district, this past 435 bills, it would have been a perfect vote because that`s the basic truth of it right there. Things that are indirect stimulus, like tax cuts.
But then, what these folks want is money for their highway, money for their broadband, money for their bridge. And what that does is it hires private contractors in their towns and it creates jobs. And then when it`s done, those people go out and they spend money and they create more jobs.
There is nothing counter intuitive about stimulus. There is nothing confusing about it. It is only when you call it stimulus, a big vague message of $787 billion that people get confused. But when it gets specific, like in these letters, there`s no confusion at all.
OLBERMANN: And still there is this tight rope for people like Pete Sessions, the congressman, in the statement that he gave to the Center for Public Integrity, about his own requests, which he also said that will create jobs. His statement was, quote, "What I have not done is allow my strong principled objection to the bill to prevent me from asking federal agencies for their full consideration of critical infrastructure and competitive grant projects for north Texas when asked to do so by my constituents."
If his strong and principled objection is that these projects will not create jobs, why is he asking for the funding just so he gets these constituents off his back?
KLEIN: Well, I would like to see the meeting in which he decides to be honest with the constituents.
KLEIN: And they come and they say, listen, the bridge, it`s about to fall down. And everybody is out of work. And he said, you know, if we build that bridge, that is not going to be built. It won`t create jobs.
There`s really -- I mean, this has always been the problem, that by making it a stimulus, by making so many things under this one large rubric, it was hard for the people in the administration to say what the stimulus was doing.
This has done tens of thousands of projects. We have done more than 15,000 transportation infrastructure projects alone. Fifteen thousand, that number is pretty much nowhere in the debate. You talk to people -- they think the money went God knows where. More than 15,000 transportation projects, many in districts like Sessions. And these projects needed to be done.
OLBERMANN: Are we seeing some evidence here? At least when it is concrete and specific and local, that when Republicans hit Washington, D.C., the way they change is that they come to understand that, you know, government in fact does have a purpose and can help and does not need to be shrunk to the size of being drowned in the bathtub?
KLEIN: No. Coming to understand it and coming to advocate it are two different things. They realize that when it comes to it, they can`t let their local districts, their local constituencies rot. What they are not sort of able to do is marry that to a philosophy that creates a more sort of efficient and effective role for government. And you`re seeing this increase as Tea Parties begin to push out to people like Bob Bennett and others who were able to be in that middle space a little bit better, a more efficient but not a larger government.
OLBERMANN: Ezra Klein of "The Washington Post" and MSNBC -- thank you, again, Ezra. Good night.
KLEIN: Thank you.